TitleWriting raps to improve vocabulary
NameO'Reilly, Nadine (author), Haboush, Karen L (chair), Schneider, Kenneth (co-chair), Rutgers University, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology,
African American students--New Jersey,
English language—Study and teaching—African American students,
English language—New words,
DescriptionThe achievement gap between African-American and White students “remains a defining mark in racial inequality in public education today” (Hallinan, 2001, p. 51). Various explanations exist, with some implicating the misalignment between instruction and student's culture as contributing to school failure. Culturally-responsive pedagogy (CRP) emphasizes the importance of making “classroom instruction more consistent with the cultural orientations of ethnically diverse students” to validate and empower marginalized students in public schools (Gay, 2010, p. 31). Various approaches to CRP exist but the premise is that marginalized students will succeed academically when their interests and cultures are validated (Gay, 2010). Empirical evidence for CRP exists but is limited in regards to vocabulary acquisition; vocabulary is important because it is one of the core components of literacy (Sanacore & Palumbo, 2010). Drawing upon existing ethnographic and empirical research on CRP, this dissertation investigated whether instruction that incorporates youth’s affiliation with hip-hop culture can facilitate word learning among a sample of 48 African American, low-income students enrolled in grades six through eight in an urban charter school in New Jersey. Hip-hop was selected because it has been validated as “the representative voice of urban youth” (Morrell & Duncan-Andrade, 2002, p. 88). It was hypothesized that students who created lyrical raps would (1) acquire and (2) retain a greater number of word definitions than students who were exposed to novel words during instruction involving rote memorization alone. A post-test analysis of variance (ANOVA) suggested no meaningful difference between the two groups for vocabulary acquisition and the first hypothesis was rejected. A second post-test ANOVA revealed a meaningful difference between the two groups for vocabulary retention and the second hypothesis was confirmed. Results suggested that traditional instruction can be effective for short-term vocabulary learning but CRP is more likely to facilitate meaningful learning, that is, retention. Suggestions for future research include extending the current study to a more diverse sample, as well as designing hip-hop based instruction for core curriculum subjects. Suggestions for professional practice include creating community-based programs, such as urban debate teams, to encourage marginalized students to engage in critical thinking exercises while building and strengthening vocabulary knowledge.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Nadine O’Reilly
CollectionGraduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.